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October 2010


-Karthik Gurumurthy


We frequently hear little jokes about gossip, like the two people who were talking and one said, " I can't tell you any more. I've already told you more than I heard." In that line is much of the tragedy about gossip, which can, and often has, destroyed a person's reputation. My mom has always mentioned that "Whoever gossips to you, will gossip of you."  Gossip always damages relationships, specifically with the person you are gossiping about. For example, once you have said something unkind about a person, you will feel uncomfortable around them and your relationship with them will suffer.

Self made entrepreneur Claudia Nardone wisely points out that before we disseminate information that might be considered gossip, we must carefully ponder three questions: Number one, Is it the truth? If it fails the first test, then it is not repeatable. Number two, even if it is the truth, Do you really need to share it? Will it help anyone? Will it hurt anyone? Would it be better left unsaid? If there are no benefits to anyone, then what possible purpose could repeating it serve? Number three, Is it kind?

In our world so full of cynicism and skepticism, will repeating this story be kind? Would it be better left unsaid? Would you really be better off repeating this information? When you analyze it this way, your chances of being gossiper are dramatically reduced.

When you consider the benefits of stopping gossip in its tracks, you'll discover they're substantial. First, you do not damage yourself, which means that your reputation and esteem are untarnished. That's good. Second, you won't harm someone else's reputation. This means that you will have a bigger circle of friends. Since most of us do not have any friends we would like to lose, that's good!

Are you really listening?

by Karthik Gurumurthy



One of the biggest assumptions all of us have is we listen well. But mostly we don't. I was reading a book "Just Listen" by Dr.  Mark Goulston. Author has outlined the importance of listening in any kind of relationship, be it business or personal. In his phenomenal book, he has classified listening into four different categories.

1.   Removed listening is just what it sounds like: removed.   It’s the kind of listening you do when you’re actually engaged in something else, like using your BlackBerry.  You may parrot back what I’ve said, but you aren’t really paying attention.  You’re mind is elsewhere and you risk letting me feel like I’m being ignored or like what I say doesn’t mean anything to you.  It’s a lot like talking over someone else’s words in a conversation—but in this case you’re “listening over” my words.

2.   With reactive listening, you’re being somewhat more attentive than removed, but still not wholly attentive. If I ask you a question, you reply with a straightforward answer but not a lot of thought. You’ve heard me, but you aren’t really mulling over what I’ve said.  Reactive listening takes away from the value of our conversation.

3.    You engage in responsible listening when you not only react to what I have said but reply with further action or elaboration. Responsible listening is the basis of all good conversations.  It’s the equivalent of talking with someone, as opposed to talking at them or over them.

4.    Receptive listening is the deepest form of listening. With this kind of listening, you let me know that you empathize fully with what I have to say, and are trying to feel what I am feeling. This is the level of listening we all want to achieve in sparring.  Receptive listening conveys generosity and respect.

Relationship builders should spend most of their time being responsible and receptive listeners and a lot less time being removed or reactive listeners.

Feed the flame

-Karthik  Gurumurthy

Success doesn’t come to the most intelligent/gifted/strong. The world is filled with geniuses who did zero with their talent. So no. Sustained success comes to the person with the biggest fire inside of them. Burning desire, unreasonable passion and massive beliefs in the importance of one’s dreams are what creates genuine leaders. And people who reach their mountaintops.

You can make the decision right now to upgrade every area and element of your life. From health to wealth. From relationships to career. It’s all yours for the taking. This can be the time you turn it all around and take it to a whole new level of wow.

So find your fire. Look in the mirror. Remember who you are. And all that you’ve dreamed of being. And then act. And when you get knocked down or discouraged or afraid. Get back up. Light up the fire. And stoke it until it blazes.

Reference Points

by Karthik Gurumurthy

Last night I watched BWWTV where a 79 year-young man share his wisdom with other entrepreneurs. Yup, Bill Britt is 79 and the self made entrepreneur still has that charisma. Still has the moves. Still has the youth.

As I watched him, I thought of a term “Reference Points”. I heard someone say last week: “I’m in my 60’s – getting near the end of my life”. Not if Bill is your reference point.

Reference points pull us into a new way of seeing things, a new possibility. Steve Jobs is a great reference point on persistence. My father is a great reference point on integrity. TD is a great reference point on living a full-out life.

Often, we have weak reference points so we see the limitations of a scenario rather than the opportunities. With world-class reference points, you will realize far more of your potential and life will have more wonder. You will play a bigger game as a human being if you pick the right people to model.

And I’ll tell you one thing: When I’m 79, I want to be like Bill. Because he’s just getting started.

5 Questions to ask ourselves

-Karthik Gurumurthy

1. Know: What do you know? What are you most confident and certain about? If you had to share the most important lessons you’ve learned with someone you are mentoring, what would you tell them?

2. Sow: What do you sow (actions and investments) that create the biggest payoff? What are you regularly doing that creates the most success and fulfillment for you?

3. Tow:Are there things you tow–baggage from the past–that you need to let go of? What do you need to quit, release or overcome in your life?

4. Grow:How do you grow? What is your program for ongoing personal and professional development?

5. Owe: Who do you owe? Make a phone call or write a letter to express gratitude to those who have counseled and encouraged you in your journey.

Simple Strategies for Spectacular Performance

-Karthik Gurumurthy

Being in business and having had an opportunity to observe so many self-made multimillionaires , the following traits seems to be common amongst all of them.

  • Use people’s names.
  • Look at them in the eye and show them you care.
  • Say please and thank you.
  • Listen several times more than you speak.
  • Be on-time.
  • Keep your promises. Under promise and over deliver!
  • Be more concerned about helping than selling (people can sniff sincerity a mile away). 
  • Be passionate about your products and services so that passion gets transferred. Passion always sells more than the knowledge.
  • Be better than anyone else in your field at what you do (so read up on the product, learn daily, develop yourself/skills and always be improving).
  • Treat your customers like they are visiting royalty.

Simple strategies. But remember: what separates the best from the rest is their consistent adherence to a few simple best practices that over time evolve into spectacular results. And also remember, everyone is selling something.


Problems or Opportunities

-Karthik Gurumurthy


Spotting problems is easy. Almost everybody can do that.

Solving problems is much more difficult. Not everyone seems up to that task. Problematically, more people are content to spot a problem (also known as moaning, groaning and complaining) than they are contributing to the solution.

But even solving problems isn’t the highest art. Spotting and exploiting opportunities is a personal and organizational leadership skill.

(By the way, “exploiting” is the correct word for seizing and taking advantage of an opportunity or situation. Exploitation becomes negative when it is done to people. Because exploitation has a potential negative connotation it is important to understand the difference.)

Why are spotting opportunities hard?

First, it requires a conscious effort. Rarely do we stumble upon opportunities, and even if we do we won’t recognize them if we aren’t paying attention.

Second, it requires a contrary focus. Today most people are focused on their problems and not their opportunities. Our natural focus seems to be on what’s wrong rather than what’s right or what could be better.

Third, opportunities are often subtle rather than obvious. Furthermore, they often come disguised as a problem and then you have to look hard to find the opportunity hidden in the problem. (Most people just see a problem as a problem.)

Once you’re spotted an opportunity you must take action to exploit it. Opportunities not acted upon are nothing more than possibilities. Leaders are those who turn possibilities into reality. But that takes work, not wishful thinking.

Are you looking for and acting on opportunities?

Traits of Great Leaders

-Karthik Gurumurthy

A great man is always willing to be little.
- Ralph Waldo Emerson

In the arena of conventional wisdom much has been said and written on how to go from good to great as a leader. While much has been penned about how to get to the top it is important to understand how leaders stay there.

John Maxwell said, “Great people have little use for fame or notoriety; they are consumed with productivity, not image. They are content when the moment calls for them to be little, ordinary, or common – as long as the goal is achieved.” While many look to unlock the deep secrets and mysteries of leadership; is it possible to overlook simple characteristics that propel leaders to the top and keep them there? I believe it is, and here are a few observations on how great leaders do it.

Great leaders are comfortable in their own skin; they are authentic. Authentic leadership has a vested interest in the lives and well-being of others. In the life of your organization and the credibility of your leadership style, is there anything more important?

Dale Carnegie said, “You can make more friends in two months by becoming interested in other people than you can in two years by trying to get other people interested in you.” This is at the heart of leaders who make it to the top. Hang around any great leader long enough and you will soon find that you feel right at home around them. Why? When the leader is at ease others around him will be also and productivity will flourish. Great leaders have nothing to prove and care deeply for those near them.

Great leaders are content to ride shotgun; they delegate. By and large, great leaders did not get to where they are by going it alone. Neither will they remain there without being surrounded by a devoted group of leaders with a shared vision.

Jim Collins said, “The moment you feel the need to tightly manage someone, you’ve made a hiring mistake. The best people don’t need to be managed. Guided, taught, led – yes. But not tightly managed.” A great leader is great because he gives adequate space to those around him to achieve their full potential.

Great leaders understand the greater purpose of riding shotgun. The leader understands that he will not sit atop his perch forever. Success calls for a successor and riding shotgun is merely driver training for a seamless transition. Leaders delegate for the greater good.

Great leaders are careful to share the limelight; they are humble. All that matters to the leader is that the goals are achieved. Robert Woodruff said, “There is no limit to what a man can do or how far he can go if he doesn’t mind who gets the credit.” If achieving goals requires the leader to be little, ordinary, or common, then look for the leader to step up for the greater good.

Thomas Merton said, “A humble man can do great things with an uncommon perfection because he is no longer concerned about accidentals, like his own interests and his own reputation, and therefore he no longer needs to waste his efforts in defending them.”

A great leader demonstrates strength in allowing the light to shine on others. For in understanding the big picture he accurately understands his small role.

Great leaders stay on top not by acts of vanity but rather by acts of mercy. Great leaders dare to be authentic, delegate responsibility, and walk in humility. The secret to understanding how great leaders stay on top is found in the discovery that these were the habits formed from the beginning and have been practiced ever since.

Thoughts on Goal Setting

-Karthik Gurumurthy

Here’s some thoughts on goal setting from Shad Helmstetter.  I believe they go right along with the message from Habakkuk 2:2-3…. “ write the vision and make it plain on tablets, that he may run who reads it.  For the vision is for an appointed time; but at the end it will speak, and it will not lie.  Though it tarries, wait for it; because it will surely come.”  Notice the formula:  (1) Write the vision down.  The act of putting it on paper makes it more concrete for you.  (2) Clarify the vision, make it plain.  I suggest at least a 100-word essay on your most inspiring vision.  (3)  Read the vision.   This imprints the vision in your heart and in your mind.  We are transformed by the renewing of our minds.  Put copies of your vision everywhere; in your car, on your mirrors, on the refrigerator, in your wallet, etc. We naturally move toward what is in front of us.  Every time you read the vision it’s like stoking the embers in a fire.  Keep stoking it until the flame soars brightly and your adrenaline starts pumping.  This will attract others to you that can help you realize your dreams.  (4) Run with it.  Move purposefully toward its fulfillment.  God may at times refine and redesign the visions that He gives you, but seldom does He remove them.  He refines the dreams and the dreamer; He tampers with the dreams while He tempers the dreamer.

1.  Set goals now!  Write them down.   If you do not write your goals down on paper, you are missing the single most important step in reaching your full potential.   Don’t wait until everything is clear in your mind, start now and clarify things as you go.

2.  Never listen to the people who tell you what you cannot do.  They are small-minded, closed-minded, weak in spirit or programmed for failure themselves.  People sometimes forecast for others what they have forecasted for themselves.

3.  Improve your “self-talk.”  The self-talk that you learn, and practice right now will control your present and future chances for success.

4.  Practice having a good attitude everyday.  Start with thanking and praise the Lord for another day to be a blessing to someone. Your attitude will do more for you than you can ever imagine.  It sets things in motion that we could never even begin to plan for ourselves.

5.  Spend as much time as possible with people who believe in you and build you up.   Your time is a precious gift from God, use it wisely.

6.  Turn off the television.  Television can be the most destructive, time-wasting, negative programming force in the world.   Break the habit of idly watching television.   Read a good book instead.

7.  Do something constructive.  Take action.   Write your plan, take action, go for it, tackle it and get it done.  Any action is better than no action.

8.  Never stop.  Never give up.   Keep going.  Don’t quit.  Get up, start again and never, ever give up on your dreams.  When you think it’s over it’s actually a new start.  Every day is a new beginning!

Leaders Develop Daily, Not In a Day

-By Dr. John C. Maxwell

A group of American tourists walked through a quaint English village in wonderment. They were enamored by the town's winding cobblestone streets, the beauty of its courtyards and plazas, and the sense of history emanating from its ancient churches. While strolling through the local park, the tourists struck up conversation with an elderly gentleman and found out that he had lived in the town for his entire life. One of the Americas, eager to hear more about the town's history, asked, "Sir, have any great men been born in this village?" "Nope," said the old man, "only babies."

Personal Growth Is a Process

In our twenties, we think ahead to when we'll be ideally situated in our career, positioned to do exactly what we enjoy, and enjoying immense influence in our occupation. Like children on the way to Disneyland, we impatiently await arrival at our destination instead of appreciating the journey there. However, as we age we encounter an uncomfortable truth: growth doesn't happen automatically. We cannot coast through life hoping one day to stumble across our dreams. Unless we set aside time to grow into the person we desire to be, we'll not reach our potential.

Leaders develop daily, not in a day. They commit themselves to the process of growth, and over time they reap the rewards of daily investments in their development. In this lesson, I'd like to share five principles to encourage you to adopt a lifestyle of personal growth.

#1 Growth is the great separator of those who succeed and those who do not.

When I went to college, there was no gap between my peers and me-none at all. We started on the same level. However, at the age of 17, I made a commitment to spend an hour a day on my personal growth. I studied and read, filing the lessons I learned along the way. Now, in most cases, the gap between my former classmates and me is pretty wide. Am I smarter than they are? Absolutely not. Many of them got better grades than I did in college. It's the growth factor-my commitment to the process of personal growth-that has made the difference.

#2 Growth takes time, and only time can teach us some things.

When it comes to personal growth, you cannot substitute for time. Yet, the mere passage of time doesn't make you wise. Experience is not the best teacher; evaluated experience is the best teacher. To gain insights from your experience, you have to engage in reflective thinking. I have a habit of taking ten minutes every evening to look back on the day. As I reflect on what happened, lessons emerge, and I capture them in my notebook so that I can learn from them.

#3 Growth inside fuels growth outside.

The highest reward of our toil is not what we get for it, but who we become by it. At the age of 17, I decided that I would read, file, and begin to prepare lessons. From that simple discipline I accumulated a wealth of content that fueled my speaking and writing. I never set out to be a leadership specialist; I was simply diligent about reading, filing, and studying. With respect to personal growth, take the long view on results. The most important question to ask is not "What am I getting?" from the discipline of personal growth, the most important question is, "Who am I becoming?"

#4 Take responsibility for your own growth.

For 15 to 20 years, the school system holds us responsible for growth. Educational curriculum clearly spells out, "here's what you do next," and "here's the next step." Then we graduate with diplomas and certificates, and we no one longer have anyone to map out the next step for us. If we want to continuing growing, we have to do it ourselves. We have to put together a game plan so that we become students of life who are always expanding our minds and drawing upon our experiences.

#5 Determine the areas of your life in which you need to grow.

You've probably heard someone say, "You can do anything as long as you put your mind to it." Sadly, as nice as that sounds, it simply isn't true. In watching people grow, I have discovered that, on a scale of 1-10, people can only improve about two notches. For instance, I love to sing; that's the good news. The bad news is that I can't carry a tune. Now, let's be generous and say that, as a singer, I'm a "two." If I put lots of money, effort, and energy into developing my voice, perhaps I can grow into a "four." News flash: on a ten-point scale, four is still below average. With regards to my career, it would be foolish for me to focus my personal growth on my voice. At best, I'd only become an average singer, and no one pays for average.

Don't work on your weaknesses. Devote yourself to fine-tuning your strengths. I work exceptionally hard on personal growth in four areas of my life. Why only four? Because I'm only good at four things. I lead, communicate, create, and network. That's it. Outside of those areas, I'm not very valuable. However, within those areas of strength I have incredible potential to make a difference